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Active Ingredient In Marijuana Kills Brain Cancer Cells

Posted May 02 2010 12:19pm

New research out of Spain suggests that THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — appears to prompt the death of brain cancer cells.

The finding is based on work with mice designed to carry human cancer tumors, as well as from an analysis of THC’s impact on tumor cells extracted from two patients coping with a highly aggressive form of brain cancer.

Explaining that the introduction of THC into the brain triggers a cellular self-digestion process known as “autophagy,” study co-author Guillermo Velasco said his team has isolated the specific pathway by which this process unfolds, and noted that it appears “to kill cancer cells, while it does not affect normal cells.”

Velasco is with the department of biochemistry and molecular biology in the School of Biology at Complutense University in Madrid. The findings were published in the April issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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